For those who follow art news in the region and beyond, Abu Dhabi Art is a high-profile, highly-anticipated event where the Emirati city proudly shows off its arts, culture, and performing arts to a wide range of audiences. Enter Dyala Nusseibeh, the director of Abu Dhabi Art and the powerhouse organizing major events under the city’s Department of Culture and Tourism.
Nusseibeh is a renowned figure in the art world, having worked for prominent institutions such as Saatchi Gallery, Art International in Istanbul, and since 2016 in Abu Dhabi Art. However, her journey into the world or art began with pursuing a degree in anthropology and not a fine arts degree, which means she brings an anthropological lens to her work, perhaps resulting in the presentation of deeper insights and a more comprehensive scope with each project.
Under her leadership, Nusseibeh is credited for giving the spotlight to regional and international talents and curators, and making the art scene more appealing to its audience by broadening variety. This includes featuring artworks from places like India, China, and nations across the African continent. Thus far, she has been able to build a network with collectors worldwide, along with dedicated collectors from the region.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, Nusseibeh decided to hold the year's Abu Dhabi Art Fair online, making it the fair’s first interactive event. With a computer and an internet connection, visitors were able to virtually browse through various booths and explore artworks from a handful of galleries. Other milestones at the fair included having six international curators design sections of the art fair, and marking 40 years of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Korea by featuring artworks curated by Sung-woo Kim.
In addition to the main events, Nusseibeh manages year-long programs such as the Art+Technology Program, a program where an artist encouraged students at Khalifa University to express art with tech. Another example is the annual Pavilion prize where students' winning proposals get to be featured at the fair.